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Elon Musk being interviewed on CNBC
Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has some lofty goals. He thinks the SpaceX program can put humans on Mars in 10-12 years:
"I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he told CNBC. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary."

Musk said that the SpaceX goal was essential to the future survival of humanity. Either mankind would slip the surly bonds of Earth and become an interplanetary species, or remain a single-planet culture and become extinct due to a man-made or natural catastrophe.

Musk's schedule puts him well ahead of NASA, which is only talking about getting man to Mars by the 2030s – and then only if it can get billions in public funding and build a rocket big enough for the job. Musk's Falcon Heavy booster is scheduled to fly within the next year, and will carry enough payload to make assembling a Mars spaceship possible.

See the CNBC interview with below the fold:

Originally posted to Scout Finch on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos, SciTech, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is what is called "leading by example" (13+ / 0-)

    I hope it's contagious.

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

    by The Termite on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:32:30 AM PDT

    •  One small problem... (9+ / 0-)

      Wherever you go, there you are.

      If we can't survive on Earth, we sure as heck can't survive on Mars.

      Musk is free to waste as much of his own money as he likes on this hustle. Let's not let him waste anyone else's. For what it would cost to build, populate, and sustain a meaningful colony on Mars (much more than merely billions) we could fix the Earth. Fixing Man himself is another matter entirely.

      Fortunately though, he's just flapping is gums.

      No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

      by DocDawg on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:26:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the kind of spreadsheet thinking that (13+ / 0-)

        Republicans subscribe to, and it isn't true.

        For one thing, the amount of money you would spend getting to Mars would not allow us to fix Earth. In fact it wouldn't even get close.

        For the other, the process of getting to Mars would bring about new levels of technology, and teach us how to survive as the Earth changes. We don't know yet what resources exist in or around Mars, but there are likely to be many that we simply don't have here.

        The same sort of thinking has limited NASA to the point that we are no longer able to put our own satellites into orbit, and have to ask the Russians to do it for us. It led to a great deal of profit and many high-tech jobs which we no longer possess.

        Instead, we've closed all that down and a massive amount of our commerce is derived from the financial services industry, which doesn't help us get through the next century at all.

        It isn't just about the dollars, its about how the dollars are spent. We need to get back into high tech, and stop convincing ourselves that not doing difficult things will put us in a  good position for what's coming. It won't.

        I'm not kidding about how the money wouldn't fix the planet. We can't fix the planet with our current level of technology. We can't even come close.

        Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

        by martianexpatriate on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:34:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Spreadsheet thinking (9+ / 0-)

          is how you determine how best to spend your resources to accomplish your goals. Don't blame the spreadsheets. Blame the goals. One thing's for sure: magical thinking doesn't get the job done.

          It's just silly to say "We don't know yet what resources exist in or around Mars." Here's what we do know: there's no breathable atmosphere. There's no surface water to speak of. There's no fertile soil. There's a lot less sunlight. There's no macroscopic plant life. Mars is a cold, poisonous ball of sand. The earth, at its possible worst a thousand years from now, will remain a Paradise compared to Mars.

          You want to terraform a planet? Great. Terraform Earth. It'll be a lot cheaper, because we're already here and we have abundant resources.

          I hereby christen the coming anti-Martian-hustle movement "Stand Our Ground."

          No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

          by DocDawg on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:14:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We never spoke (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cybersaur, hyperstation, eve, MichaelNY

            about terraforming the planet yet... we talked about reaching it.

            it isn't silly at all to talk about the resources present on Mars, or its moons, its entirely relevant. It's only silly if your the type who likes to make snap decisions. Which, I sense, you are.

            And spreadsheet thinking is when a Republican decides to cut social services so much that the entire economy slows down as a result. Then he spends years trying to figure out why the economy sucks, even though he keeps cutting costs.

            Good luck with that.

            If we had maintained funding of NASA instead of engaging in it, we'd still have a hundred-million dollar a year plus industry for launching communication satellites.

            Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

            by martianexpatriate on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:46:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  large scale colonization of mars... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hyperstation, eve

            isn't going to be a thing anytime soon. No matter what people say. You aren't wrong about what we know about the environment and resources available on mars.

            However, GOING to Mars, is a pretty big deal because it will teach us a lot about space travel, surviving in extreme environments, and just general knowledge about our solar system.

            The money spent on space programs is negligible in the long run. It wouldn't make a bit of difference in the issues facing our own climate, but the things we learn from pushing back that boundary could make a difference.

            As far as exploiting the resources of our solar system goes, we're better off planning asteroid capture missions.  Knock an asteroid into earth orbit where it would provide enough raw materials to satisfy human demand for a century without having to dig anything out of the earth.

            The point of all of this is that there is a lot of stuff out there, beyond our sky. It can benefit us and our planet if we think big enough to go after it. and if, as the climate fatalists like to say, the earth is past the point of no return and we are doomed, then learning to live in space and on other planets is even more urgent.

            "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -Henry Ford

            by sixeight120bpm on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:17:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No magnetic field is a problem on Mars. (4+ / 0-)

              You can't live on the surface of Mars without getting bombarded by solar wind.

              That alone makes it nearly impossible to colonize Mars with current technology or even technology that is only Elon Musk level imaginary.

              Little water, probably all frozen, no dirt, air pressure only about 1% of Earth's, much less intense sunlight,etc.

              The list of reasons Mars cannot support a human colony even 50+ years from now goes on and on.

              Heck, Antarctica is a tropical paradise compared to Mars, but at least you can breath the air there.

              Elon Musk loves his delusional pipe dreams and the resulting undeserved media adulation.

              He should consult actual scientists like me once in a while instead of the sycophants he surrounds himself with.

              A gigantic space station akin to "Elysium" would make a lot more sense than Mars, singlet oxygen and all.

          •  Oh, quoting Wendell Berry, never mind (0+ / 0-)

            That is a litmus for pointless foolishness, so I'll just quit now...

            •  How very broad-minded of you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kickemout

              I will grant you that Wendell Berry never created a web form into which you can type your credit card number in order to purchase your cat treats, nor has he built and sold to 1%ers 5,000 ultra-expensive ultra-luxury cars, nor did he seriously propose a patently nonsensical tube train for California.

              The guy's a good businessman, and I respect that. But I'm kind-of shocked by all the fanboys here who are ready to follow him To Infinity And Beyond.

              No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

              by DocDawg on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 06:01:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yep, the tube train is nonsense (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DocDawg, mdriftmeyer

                The idea is at least 100 years old.

                There's a reason it's never been attempted.

                I'm glad he's promoting the heck out of electric cars and rechargeable batteries, but there is nothing else there.

                The guy is famous for inventing Paypal for gosh sakes.
                He's not Howard Hughes II by any stretch of the imagination possible.  

              •  We Mechanical Engineers laugh at the Tube (0+ / 0-)

                This isn't the Jetsons. The Tube is an asinine approach to distributed transportation. The cost is not less, but far greater than high speed rails.

                To create a near vacuum state to transport packages, for very short distances is feasible because you aren't transporting living beings.

                The costs to build right of way, at exceedingly high levels [Ever driven I-5 from Burbank to Bakersfield?] to maintain pressure, etc.

                Musk quickly switched majors from engineering to business, but this 20 something generation thinks he's the new Steve Jobs and Nikoli Tesla in one, when he doesn't hold a candle to either.

                His successes come from hiring seasoned NASA retreads for SpaceX dealing with traditional lift payloads. That's it.

                His Solar City is an investment into IP from other firms and talent.

                What limited IP (Intellectual Property from staff) is within Tesla battery technologies. And it's not that impressive, hence the massive amounts of batteries currently models need [due in no small part ot Exxon Mobil and other Oil conglomerates patenting large scale batteries and refusing to license their IP].

                Glad he's getting exposure to help distract a lot of old industry and make them nervous. Other companies are working hard at making many clean energies a reality.

                High speed Rails with Meglev [another US invention deployed elsewhere] is a must, but not just around the perimeter, but to criss-cross the US like our Highway system.

                •  you don't think he's done anything impressive? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  207wickedgood

                  really, or is this just some armchair quarterbacking?  paypal was more than just a webform.  with tesla, elon is seeking to bring about a sea change with cars, and his basically open sourcing his patents is awesome.  he is currently working on a $30K all electric car.  he's super charging stations.  his making a mega-factory for batteries.  he's forward thinking on solar panels and his proposition is one i might be able to take advantage of in the future.  spacex is a pretty awesome idea and one of it's goals is to bring space travel to the masses.  

                  he's a brilliant, visionary business man.  who really cares about the tube system, it doesn't represent him 100%.

          •  Sadly, very true (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            madcitysailor

            Lifelong space nut here.  I am passionately in favor of space exploration and think there are all kinds of good scientific, technological, and inspirational reasons for a Mars mission.

            That said, DocDawg is exactly right that sending people to Mars isn't going to save Earth nor provide a self-sustaining alternative habitat that could survive in the face of a civilizational or ecological collapse on Earth.  

        •  I'm such an admirer of Musk and so disappointed... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          riprof, patbahn, Nattiq

          I'm such an admirer of Musk and so disappointed to hear that he has a bad case of techno-triumphalism like Kurzweil.

          I"m a big Tesla fan. I really am. But you can't power a space ship with batteries and you really don't want to live on Mars. Do this experiment first: Park a traler in the AZ desert for a year and never, ever leave, not for food, not to empty the waste tanks or clean the windows etcetera without first putting on a plastic hazmat suit. Fun eh?

        •  spreadsheet thinking (0+ / 0-)

          "....The same sort of thinking has limited NASA to the point that we are no longer able to put our own satellites into orbit..."

          I thought it was republican budget cuts that limited NASA? Help me see the flaws in my logic.

      •  Musk is doing what he can to save earth too though (6+ / 0-)

        Unlike many people with his worth or influence.

        He's changing the way we (and by "we" I mean humanity, not just Americans) drive and get/use electricity.

        You can disparage him all you want. But I find him an inspiration and a leader. I wont bet against him. A lot of people are doing that right now on Wall Street. They're not very pleased at their (negative) results.

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:53:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are looking at the glass wrong. It's not (4+ / 0-)

        half full.

        It's not a glass.

        Elon Musk is 100% correct. Just like Charleston Heston intones in the voiceover at the beginning of the film "Armageddon":

        It happened before, it'll happen again... it's just a question of when....

        Either we escape the surly bonds of Earth and become a truly Spacefaring Species or we doom our eventual progeny to an Earth strip-mined of all resources which can make life (for homo sapiens sapiens) worth living.

        The Golden Era of science fiction had a phrase for those who thought as you seem to: Earth Firsters.

        These people were certain that money spent on going to space was a waste. They wanted the money spent on Earth to alleviate suffering and hunger.

        But some day, if we continue to inhabit this world as we do today, endlessly increasing our human population in a world of finite resources... Humanity will meet it's end.

        But it doesn't have to be that way. Our species can fly the interstellar winds even if we never manage to break the light speed barrier to interstellar travel. We'll simply have to go on one-way trips either in suspended animation or as generation colony ships (where a few generations will live en route to their new home).

        But simply sitting home, groundside, and doing nothing?

        That's only an option for people who have given up all hope for a future.


        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

        by Angie in WA State on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 12:31:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so let's base our policy on science fiction (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FrY10cK, madcitysailor, Kickemout

          just about tells us where this whole fantasy started. Musk can spend all he wants, as DocDawg said upstream, but as long as there's a chance to save this planet, and there still is, this is where the problem has to be solved. Thinking that space travel solves anything is a delusionary fantasy that distracts from real solutions to real problems that have to be solved here. On Earth. Our planet. Gaia. And the solution is political, based on opening up our consciousnesses to the evil of greed and to the possibilities of community and sharing resources.

          •  Doing to other planets what we've done to this ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            madcitysailor

            Doing to other planets what we've done to this one? Even if it was possible, I'd not support it.

          •  Science Fiction Fan disagrees (0+ / 0-)

            Reading science fiction opens a mind willing to step back and look at ourselves in context and to imagine alternative futures based upon alternative policies in the Now.

            Aspiration to the stars shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, but resources should be allocated ONLY if we simultaneously give priority to addressing the tipping point that our species is nearing on Terra.  

            We seem to believe that technological solutions can be found for every problem, but unable to apply systems thinking to address those problems in context.  

            Worse yet, we seem unable to admit that our species is less than the perfection our ancient religions tell us we are.  The science on H. sapiens doesn't paint a pretty picture.  

            Do we really want to inflict us on the rest of the universe, despite how great the technology would be to get there?

            •  Our difficulties are not about thermodynamics, (0+ / 0-)

              they are about politics. Desperately exporting a handful of human bodies off-world simply means desperately exporting our political difficulties. It would solve nothing of significance that actually needs solving.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:02:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Colonizing space is impractical and ridiculous. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FrY10cK, UntimelyRippd, Dan McIntyre

          That's not a sensible solution for anything.

          Humanity will go extinct eventually no matter what.

          The only question is, how soon?

          If we want to extend our species' longevity, the practical method would be to adapt our behavior to better fit the environment millions of years of evolution crafted us to inhabit.

          Screw Earth First, I'm for Earth Only.

          Science fiction is fiction.

          Spare us the fantasy. Reality (and science) tell us -- loud and clear -- that we have no choice but to work on our own planet.

          Relying on ludicrous magical bromides (one-way trips in suspended animation)??

          That's only an option for people who have given up all hope for a future.

          •  Best and most accurate comment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rithmck

            right here folks!

          •  You need a refresher course on Clarke's 3 Laws (0+ / 0-)

            Mostly number three:

            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
            It's not FICTION to look forward and see that our species, to ensure long-term survival, must not keep all of our eggs in a single basket.

            It's not merely human destruction of the bio-sphere or depleting resources required for a substantially high standard of living.

            It's that the Universe is a cold and lonely place full of danger, like comets and asteroids.

            Have you looked at the Moon lately? See all those craters?

            Those are strikes by asteroids/meteoroids. The Earth has lots of them, too, see Hudson's Bay for an example. Or just Google: Impacts on Earth. See what's been happening so far in our history...

            Someday another one like Chicxulub WILL come along and hit us. And homo sapiens sapiens will go the way of the dinosaurs.

            I prefer to promote the idea that instead of conserving our current lifestyle as long as possible, we work to adjust to the changes that will present themselves to our posterity. Even ones which might require that we, as a Species, relocate to some other home planet.

            Oh, and the subject line?  Discussing future interstellar travel isn't some "magical bromide". It's disaster planning. We simply haven't developed the technology to do so yet.


            "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

            by Angie in WA State on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 11:56:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Might as well talk teleporting and time travel. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              UntimelyRippd

              There is not meaningful policy discussion to be had on inexistent dreamed-up sci-fi fantasies.

              None.

              Please don't cite a science-fiction author to make a case to treat science fiction as reality.

              Relocating to another planet is not remotely possible.

              We either figure out how to stop messing up earth, or we go extinct a little faster than we would have otherwise.

              There's no meaningful life to be had for humans outside earth.

              •  "Relocating to another planet is not remotely (0+ / 0-)

                possible."

                Bullshit.

                We could do it today, if we had to.

                Oh, we couldn't take all 7 billion humans along for the ride, but we could move enough of us to ensure our species survived.

                There's enough H3 in the Moon's regolith to power a sufficiently high level of technology, and asteroids to provide source materials for creating tools and machinery and FOOD are within our reach, too, in the orbit between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt made of (many scientists believe) of what's left of a planet destroyed some time in our far past.

                And why would anyone believe "There's no meaningful life to be had for humans outside earth"? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

                I'm sorry for you if you truly believe that.


                "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

                by Angie in WA State on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 01:09:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So we should strip-mine the moon (0+ / 0-)

                  the way we've strip mined West Virginia? Pass.

                  No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

                  by DocDawg on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 06:36:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Space colonization is not possible or desirable. (0+ / 0-)

                  We do not possess the technology to do so today.

                  We won't in the conceivable future either.

                  Your account is incorrect. It is fantasy and fabrication.

                  We can't terraform. We can't build even remotely self-sustaining colonies for any significant number of people on the moon or Mars or on asteroids. We just don't have that power.

                  All we could do is waste massive amounts of money to build tiny bunkers for a handful of humans here or there -- that would continue to cost massive amounts of money to sustain and supply. No thanks.

                  Expecting space colonization to save us is stupid. Total, total bullshit.

                •  If we could survive on the moon, we could (0+ / 0-)

                  use the same technologies to survive on an asteroid-blasted Earth.

                  That is the simple truth overlooked by your purple-prosed ode to the glorious odium of space travel.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 05:56:32 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Clarke was wrong (0+ / 0-)

              Any technology is easily distinguished from magic because magic doesn't work.

              We must colonize space because modern civilization is not sustainable on Earth. There are too many of us, not enough resources, and the Earth cannot absorb our waste products. Unless we go to space, we are all just yeasts in a barrel of grape juice.

            •  See those craters on the moon? (0+ / 0-)

              They seem like strong evidence that just about everywhere else but earth is a worse place for humanity to place any of its eggs at all.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:04:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Mars colonies not the right way (0+ / 0-)

          If you are worried about impacts, we'd do far better to invest in the technology to detect and deflect incoming objects.  Whether that means attaching ion thrusters, solar sails, whatever, or the Ed Teller recommendation of building multi-hundred megaton hydrogen bombs, or whatever, the technology of self-sustaining habitats on Mars will be only marginally relevant, other than perhaps as a spur to developing better heavy-lift launch capability.

          It will be a long, long, long time before a Mars colony could survive the destruction of Earth and thus the loss of any additional inputs of resources, people, or knowledge from 'home'.  

        •  If we can't survive on Earth, we can't survive in (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DocDawg

          space -- because in the worst case, we could live on Earth in the same horrific, anti-human, synthetic environments we would be creating for ourselves for living in space.

          Anybody with brains and resources who is squandering both trying to figure out how to somehow sustain a human population somewhere other than here, in this perfectly tuned environment to which we are completely adapted, is engaged in a pointless vanity project.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 10:09:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What he said ^^^ nt (0+ / 0-)

            No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

            by DocDawg on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 06:37:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Musky (0+ / 0-)

        The truth he speaks is not what you are hearing. One gigantic asteroid and the human race is just a blip on the ages of history. If we span out to other planets, no matter  how hard that may be, we will stand for all time.

        I'd imagine the Dinosaurs wished they had a back up plan.

    •  As long as Elon is going to pay for it himself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrY10cK

      Instead of putting his hand out to taxpayers layer.

      Because these a personal ambitions not high priority national goals.

      Not that I'm ever against promoting scientific endeavor, but we've already invented rockets to get humans to other planets and this is basically an iterative exercise in search of a mission, and I can think of few that would really require the weight and expense of humans at this point.

      Better make life on earth sustainable first - and thanks for your contribution to that, Elon (really).

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:30:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is the problem with neo-feudalism. (0+ / 0-)

        When all of the surplus wealth accumulates in the coffers of the plutocratic pseudo-nobility, they, rather than we, get to decide how our resources will be deployed -- while people like you say, "As long as Elon is going to pay for it himself."

        There is no way for Elon to "pay for it himself" -- the labor and natural resources the project consumes come out of all of our "pockets", regardless of the fact that the processes driving our financialized economy have piled up a mountain of control in Musk's back yard.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 10:14:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Humanity's future is to spread out to the Universe (5+ / 0-)

    I was thinking of the Fermi Paradox and I am leaning on the idea that maybe we are alone but we are meant to spread and colonize the cosmos.

    •  I once had a t-shirt that said: (6+ / 0-)

      "Earth First! We'll destroy the other planets later!"

      ;)

      Alas, I fear we'll just become a galactic locust horde, looting and wrecking one planet after another.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:39:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is our purpose if not to colonize space? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lenny Flank, kharma, Mad Season
        •  it's our manifest destiny, no doubt . . . . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aaraujo, The Termite, Mad Season

          As a species, we don't have a very good history when it comes to "colonization" . . . .

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:43:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If the universe is empty, then we must populate it (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Timaeus, kharma, Mad Season

            I saw something that said that if it takes about 500 years to go from one habitable system to another that the whole galaxy would be reached in about 3.5 million years.    That's a blink of an eye in geological time.

            •  Why? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NYFM, 714day, FarWestGirl
              If the universe is empty, then we must populate it
              Honest question.
              •  why else are we here? (0+ / 0-)

                Are we to whither away on the vine?

                Our species came into being on the plains of Africa and simply by walking colonized the whole world.  

                In the next generation we may have a solid foothold on Mars.

                In the next 500 years, we would have colonized the whole solar system and start moving towards the neighboring stars.

                Within the same amount of time that it took our ancestors to walk across this planet, our decedents will rocket across the galaxy

                •  Does there have to be a purpose? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mollyd, 714day, FarWestGirl
                  why else are we here?
                  Are we to whither away on the vine?
                  A lot of life cycles do end that way.
                •  Building a sustainable and satisfying life on E... (0+ / 0-)

                  Building a sustainable and satisfying life on Earth is not to whither on the vine.

                  •  Seems to me that not only is it "not to wither (0+ / 0-)

                    on the vine", it also should be viewed as a prerequisite to taking the otherwise pointless step off into space.

                    Why export all of our problems off-world?

                    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 10:17:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  To think there must be a purpose, a reason (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  barkworsethanbite

                  for our existence is arrogant.

                  That doesn't mean there is no purpose, or that we can't dedicate ourselves to one. But to assume there is a purpose ascribes far too much importance to us as a species. The only species ever to be responsible for a mass extinction event.

                  No, we suck.

                  As a man who runs a couple of wildlife sanctuaries (one in Nigeria, one in Cameroon) dedicated to saving the Drill - a close relation of the more famous Mandrill - from extinction put it to me during a discussion, "God did very well for the first five days, and then on the sixth, he really screwed up."

                  I ride the wild horse .

                  by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:57:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I would assume... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...that we would find life forms far more impressive than us, and therefore far more worth preserving, fairly early in this search. Therefore, if we are rational, we probably would stop the exploration within 1,000,000 years and begin to help those life forms spread with our, comparatively feeble, efforts. However, the odds of humans existing in 1,000,000 years (with or without any man-made environmental impacts) is, I think, fairly small.

                  If the goal is to:

                  Get a breeding pair (or, just a few viable fertilized human eggs) to another more promising chunk of dirt before humans become extinct on earth due to natural changes that they are too slow to adapt to - due in part to their late sexual maturity and high resource needs.
                  then we need to rethink how we allocate resources. It seems obvious that expenditures that don't further this goal should be abandoned. For example, it's unlikely that an individual of any age who has an IQ below 90 or who has shown no signs of strong intellect by the age of 30 is going to contribute significantly to this goal -- therefore it would be counterproductive to expend resources on that individual given that the goal, even with with 100% focus, seems extremely difficult to achieve. We would need to increase "quality" and reduce "quantity" under this model.

                  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I don't buy that goal as I think it's very unlikely that humans will find another chunk of dirt that they can inhabit and I think, statistically, it's extremely unlikely that we are the "apex" species of the universe and therefore, perhaps, worth preserving at all costs. I assume that among the distribution of things we would loosely think of as species (albeit perhaps completely different "life" forms), humans are somewhere in the middle of the Bell curve - as is the case with most natural phenomena.

                  Any belief that humans are somehow special, in an intergalactic sense, seems to make little more sense than beliefs that bigots in our society have about races other than their own. We humans have become very arrogant because we just happen to be (I think) the most intelligent (but not the most hardy) life form in our solar system and perhaps for a few light years around us - but that's like a village of idiots assuming they are infallible because they have never traveled more than 50 miles from their village and encountered anyone not from their village and no one from a neighboring village ever saw any reason to wander in their direction.

              •  because life seeks to live and to spread. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Omir the Storyteller

                Every organism with rare exceptions that reinforce the rule, seeks to preserve its own life.  

                Every species seeks to inhabit every ecological niche that is available to it.

                These are fundamental instincts that are intrinsic to living organisms.  The necessary limits, imposed by intelligence and reason as well as compassion for other life, are the limits of sustainability and the limits of not destroying other intelligent life.

                For Earth-originated life to persist in the universe, will require spreading across distances that are immune to every possible natural and cosmic disaster, including supernovae and gamma ray bursters.  This calls for a span of populated worlds across a distance of a few thousand light years.

                We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:15:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  It's thousands of years not hundreds and we can... (0+ / 0-)

              It's thousands of years not hundreds and we can only speculate as to whether these planets can sustain life.

          •  that's why it should be referred to as... (0+ / 0-)

            ... space migration rather than "colonization."

            In any case, a colony remains largely dependent upon the colonizing power, something that is not possible over interstellar distances.  

            We can get practice at dealing with the legalities of seeding independent worlds via Mars migration.  When a planet is capable of building its own interplanetary spaceships, it becomes an independent world.  

            This logically extends to planets in other star systems.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:01:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  We have a purpose? (0+ / 0-)

          Where did that come from?

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 10:15:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The stars usually eat their planets eventually, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl

        don't they?

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:32:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  lol I think neutron star status, in-falling due to (0+ / 0-)

        our own mass of accumulated errors, is frankly more likely.

        Short of functional FTL, (faster than light), we are shackled to this solar system by sheer distance. As a species we are too unstable to manage Sci-Fi's 'world ships' or multi-generational projects.

        We ain't gettin' out of the Petrie dish, (without outside help), anytime soon. ;-)

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 01:38:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Throw some DNA onto a seed ship and aim it to (0+ / 0-)

          the closest earthlike planet and wait 100,000 years for something to take hold.
           

        •  methinks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl

          the ass is half empty

        •  That's not true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          roberb7

          Sure, we don't have the technology to colonize other star systems now, but we wouldn't need FTL to do it. If we can build ships that travel say half of c and can last say a hundred years, there are plenty of places we could reach.

          I ride the wild horse .

          by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:00:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  no we aren't. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BelgianBastard, Nattiq

          We aren't shackled to anything.

          At 10% of light speed, a star system 100 light years away is a 1,000 year trip, that would be made by a colony ship or space-liner capable of supporting a genetically viable population size for the duration.  This would be a self-contained ecosystem capable of being transferred to the destination planet.

          Before these things are launched to other star systems, they will be tested in solar orbit for the necessary length of time.

          None of this requires fundamental new science (in the sense of throwing out the existing Standard Model).  It only requires new technology that is within the realm of existing science.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:23:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your math is way off, (0+ / 0-)

            unless we can invent a spaceship that can instantly accelerate to 10% of the speed of light.

            Otherwise you are limited to about 10g acceleration, but 2-3g is a more practical limit. It takes a long time to get to 10% c at 3gs, then you have to slow down at 3g or less also.

            •  Acceleration time is insignificant (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              At 0.1 g of acceleration  or 1m/s per second,  you reach 10% of light speed in a single year.  So, even for travel to Proxima Centauri, you only spend about 5% of your trip accelerating or decelarating.

              Of course, you need a propulsion system that can provide acceleration for an entire year.  (And you better have a mechanism to deal with all impactors however small,or a ship that is armored in miles of stuff...)

              •  and decelerate upon arrival. (0+ / 0-)

                (Technically, deceleration is acceleration with a negative number;-)

                And the fuel supply.

                Dealing with impactors is an interesting issue given that we presently don't have good empirical data on what kind of "stuff" is out there.  For all we know, there are thermally dark objects of large sizes in interstellar space.

                Adding hardened mass to the space liner is an obvious way to deal with this issue, though of course it will increase the fuel requirement.  Beyond a certain size and scale, the tradeoff should be worthwhile.  

                Envision an object the size of a small to medium moon, hollowed out to accommodate the artificial ecosystem, and then coated on its exterior with ceramic or metallic material that was applied to it in a molten or otherwise liquid state, and various sensors embedded in the surface of that material so the entire exterior was like a huge "compound eye" (for redundancy's sake). Attach fusion motors to the rear of it.

                Alternately, something made of hardened material that  narrows to a point at the front end, at an angle such as to deflect small objects it encounters.

                In either case it would have to be able to maneuver to avoid large objects.

                The technical challenges for interstellar spacecraft are enormous but not insurmountable.  

                We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                by G2geek on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 05:13:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  pick nits much? (0+ / 0-)

              1,000 years, 3,000 years, whatever: bottom line is it's a many-generational mission with a four-figure timeline in years.  Feel free to do the math and post your work.

              The point was that the ability to achieve low relativistic speeds does not call for any revisions in the Standard Model, much less its overthrow.  

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 04:55:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  quit yer whining and do something constuctive (0+ / 0-)

        It can't happen that fast, we'll have time to grow up as a species.

      •  sustainability is the precondition to... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrY10cK

        .... interstellar migration.

        Going interstellar is the largest engineering project a planetary civilization can undertake, and necessarily occurs over a multi-thousand-year span of time.

        We won't make it if we don't achieve sustainability first.

        Thus no wrecking of planets, now or in the future.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:58:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm afraid climate change answers Fermi Paradox (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaraujo, 714day

      Back in the day they worried nuclear war would destroy human civilization, if not all life on Earth, and hypothesized that a similar historical trajectory could explain the apparent absence of extraterrestrial life - technologically-advanced aliens would inevitably develop nuclear energy, eventually weaponize it, and blow themselves up.

      It's almost worse to think that civilizations destroy themselves with cool-headed and self-interested business as usual, not spasms of irrationality.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:01:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember that thinking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        It was said that as soon as a society got smart enough that it would destroy itself.  I don't buy it.

        •  self-destruction need not be deliberate (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, aaraujo, FarWestGirl

          I think we're trapped in a grand version of "the tragedy of the commons" where behaviors can be both individually rational and self-interested and collectively insane and self-destructive.

          It's not hard to imagine aliens surviving because they evolve or impose either a hive mind or a strict caste system, either way allowing individuals who would logically have distinct and therefore conflicting interests to act (willingly or not) to serve a single shared interest.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:51:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's capitalism (0+ / 0-)

            Capitalism prioritizes the interests of the indivudual ahead of those of the community. When the earth was so large compared to us that little we did could affect it, and resources practically limitless, capitalism made sense. In a limited world where the selfishness of individuals endangers the community, capitalism becomes intolerable. Either it goes oe we do.

        •  already done, but for the screaming and thrashing (0+ / 0-)
      •  Ok "its your money or your life !" (0+ / 0-)

        Our business leaders seem averse to wanting to close the deal. ""We need to take some time to think about it, after all, its a lot of money, we'll get back to you."

        Most of us, given that choice, would want to live, even without money, as is the case with people looking at how to pay the 20% of the bill not covered by the ACA or medicare.

        Its going to take people who can get beyond the idea of having to work for a living.

        If you have see your money as your insurance that your families freedom and security will be forever protected  in a world in which your fine with it if nobody else survives, and you think everyone should have your values, don't be surprised if rising sea levels begin by taking your ocean front home and things get worse from there.

        What Reagan used to refer to as "a rising tide that raises all boats" we now see as the result of melting polar ice caps.

        "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

        by rktect on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:59:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  if only we didn't need to eat (0+ / 0-)
          Its going to take people who can get beyond the idea of having to work for a living.
          then no-one would be hungry.

          I don't know anyone who works because they want to.  I certainly don't care if I'm productive or not.  I go to work for money because it's the only way available to me to obtain things like food, shelter, and the internet.  I have zero desire to eke out a living as a hunter-gatherer in the wilderness.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 01:04:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ask yourself why it is rich people don't work (0+ / 0-)

            they get subsidies, tax breaks, pull down hundreds of millions in golden parachutes after their incompetence destroys companies, sends their jobs overseas and raids their assets.

            Money is not a good reason for doing or not doing anything.

            "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

            by rktect on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:02:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  don't be afraid, be courageous and imaginative. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nattiq

        Climate change is, in scientific & technological terms, easy to solve.  Change to new energy sources, reduce population, reduce consumption levels.  

        All we lack is the will to force our leaders to do what must obviously be done.

        But there comes a tipping point where climate impacts lead to the will to force the change.  That tipping point is nearer than the point of no return that leads to extinction.

        Nothing is inevitable unless humans are objects without consciousness.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:26:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If there is a God, (0+ / 0-)

      he will preserve the diversity of life in the universe by protecting it from the more avaricious species such as ourselves.

      The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

      by amyzex on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:19:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "It's an ugly planet.....a BUUUUG planet"...;-) (4+ / 0-)
  •  meh--we've heard that for 60 years now (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aaraujo, JeffW, Gooserock, NYFM, Mas Gaviota, rduran

    If humans were really interested in being on Mars, we'd already be there.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:36:40 AM PDT

    •  but now it's not entirely (5+ / 0-)

      government dependent (political).  Private enterprise will accelerate the process and Elon Musk has the vision, drive, and means to get this done.

      •  alas, private enterprise (5+ / 0-)

        is generally a miserable failure at doing anything for public good.

        Musk will need billions of dollars in funding, and he won't get it through any humanitarian utopian vision.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:46:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess I'm just more bullish (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aaraujo, kharma

          on the prospects for private enterprise in space exploration than you are.  Elon Musk has already accomplished amazing things with SpaceX, I wish it were a public company so I could buy a share or two.

        •  Private enterprise (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kharma, sodalis, billmosby

          Don't equate private enterprise with big corporations. You're mistaking the map for the territory.

          Private enterprise has given us countless things that you and I take completely for granted. Our government has by and large completely stopped innovating, unless you consider advanced weapon systems to be valuable innovation.

          Profit motive and individual aspiration to greatness are both real things that dwell inside real people who use them to create. That's not a value statement; it's a fact.

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

          by The Termite on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:01:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well, I doubt any mom and pop corner business is (0+ / 0-)
            Don't equate private enterprise with big corporations.
            gonna get anyone to Mars.  Just a guess.

            It will take either a government---or a huge-ass megacorporation with the resources of a government.

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 02:10:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Mistaking the sequoias for the forest ecosystem (0+ / 0-)

            Is I think a more apt metaphor. Especially if sequoias were always spitting out herbicides rather than merely shading the understory.

            But I agree with your basic point about private enterprise. If we had a government which actually supported free markets - by busting up cartels and monopolies and oligopolies, and resisting the imposition of entrance barriers by guilds - then the creativity of the private sector could really be unleashed.

            It's not quite true that government has stopped innovating. DARPA-E is a recent development, one that ought to be expanded by a couple orders of magnitude.

            The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

            by nicteis on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 04:43:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's the issue. SpaceX needs a series of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sodalis

          government contracts to pursue this vision.
             I suspect that NASA doesn't want SpaceX t advance toward interplanetary flight. NASA is working on a manned spacecraft that won't be ready to carry crew members until 2020. Space X has a crewed spacecraft already built.
             NASA wants to farm out milk runs to the ISS to private companies while it builds its SLS system for things like wrangling asteroids, another set of moon landings, or an expedition to Mars.
              By most accounts, Musk is ready to start a Mars program right now.

        •  The Falcons and Dragons... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sodalis, 714day, Roger Fox

          ....are well on the way to dramatic cost reductions in space launch services, reuseable launch systems will change everything.

          This is a place that some of the $$$ required can come from.

          "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

          by leftykook on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:58:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  he'll get it from contracts with NASA. (0+ / 0-)

          And ESA.

          Those will provide the $$ to keep developing his spacecraft right through to the next Moon landings, at which point he'll be "close enough" to get the contracts for Mars.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:06:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Musk is amazing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sodalis, The Termite, 714day

        PayPal, Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX.  The man is single-handedly creating the future and making a fortune doing it.

        No matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.--Lily Tomlin

        by MadScientist on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:45:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and I certainly don't begrudge him (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Termite

          the fortune he makes - what he is doing is a benefit to humanity.

        •  Paypal is not great: (0+ / 0-)

          My account has been hacked, twice, for example. Tesla is subsidized, directly and indirectly (not that I'm not all for that). His ideas about a west coast long distance mass transit system were unworkable.

          The guy reminds me of a business savvy but dimmer Tesla (that is no insult, btw). He's full of ideas, and often very useful ones, but sometimes his mind runs away with him. Unfortunately it's not always clear which is which until hindsight provides 20/20 vision.

          I ride the wild horse .

          by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:45:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The reason it isn't government-dependent is that (0+ / 0-)

        the rich people now have all the money.

        Be careful how excited you get about the wonders of "non-political" decisions of where humanity's capacities will be employed.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 10:25:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Humanity's Not Interested In Nuking Each Other Yet (0+ / 0-)

      we have masses of lethal nukes.

      Humanity is not a democracy, it doesn't do expensive projects just because most people want them or would want them if they knew they were possible. And it will do expensive, even ruinous projects even if most people oppose them, if its leadership wants to.

      We went to the Moon because we had a big arsenal of space based weapons that didn't work right and needed troubleshooting, which we could do publicly if we set men on top of them and called it a "space race" against our lethal enemy empire that also had similar weapons and was pursuing space based military platform.

      There never to this day would be a democratic vote to send 11 test pilots and 1 scientist to the Moon, not among Americans, not across humanity. Support for American independence was very shaky in the mid 1770's, arguably less than 50% but it's not easy to be sure.

      And soon after we were sure the enemy wasn't going to develop the Moon, we cut off our project too.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:15:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  use those nukes for a Project Orion spaceship (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1

        We'd be talking thousands of tons of payload - imagine a spaceship where you run out of space in the cargo hold before you run out of weight the ship can move - and a 2 week transit time to Mars rather than 9 months.  We could send dozens of colonists - even a hundred colonists (assuming an average weight of 150 pounds) would only weigh 7.5 tons - and all manner of heavy equipment to build a real self-sustaining base on Mars.

        The biggest version of Orion ever conceived weighed 8 million tons empty and had a payload capacity of 3 million tons.  It could have traveled at 3% of lightspeed and if designed as a generation ship it could have gone to Alpha Centauri in 150 years.

        Orion would open up space like nothing else we have on the drawing board.  Using it only as a surface-to-orbit launch vehicle, it would make space cheaper beyond anything SpaceX can offer.  And we could have built it 50 years ago.

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:23:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, because putting a bunch of nukes... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Goliadkin

          in orbit around our planet for an extended period, and the setting them off one by one near our planet, well, that couldn't possibly go wrong.

          Note: For those unfamiliar with Project Orion, it was a program that looked into propelling space ships using nuclear explosions. It was abandoned mostly because it was considered far too dangerous.

          I ride the wild horse .

          by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:58:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Part of the cancellation is the lack of missions (0+ / 0-)

            for it.
            Orion engine requires a "minimum payload" (there's a lower limit on how small you can make a nuke). Any smaller, then you're better off using conventional rockets. Minimum payload for Orion engine was, if my memory is correct, around the kilo-ton range. At the time, no one can think of any viable reason why we want to send several thousand tons of stuff into orbit in one launch.

        •  great, let's do both. (0+ / 0-)

          Space is big enough to support NASA building Orion, and Elon Musk building a private-sector fleet.  

          For the price of the Iraq war, we could have done it.  But that only means that when we have the will, we'll do it.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:14:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Supposedly Carl Sagan once suggested (0+ / 0-)

          taking all of Earth's nuclear weapon stock and using it to send an Orion ship to Alpha Centauri, thus solving two problems at once.

          I'd go for that ...

          The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

          by raboof on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 08:33:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What was lacking was the profit motive... (0+ / 0-)

        Now we've got billionaires who want to put hotels on the moon, just because they're rich and can afford it, and because they grew up on science fiction.

        I hope they go for it.

        No matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.--Lily Tomlin

        by MadScientist on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:48:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  meh, if rich billionaires really wanted to go to (0+ / 0-)

          Mars or the Moon, they'd already be there.  (shrug)

          What is REALLY missing is the Cold War. If the Russians hadn't wanted to race us to the Moon, we wouldn't have even bothered.

          Want to get NASA to Mars? Then get the Chinese to announce that they are going first.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 02:36:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's already a foregone conclusion... (0+ / 0-)

            ... that China will be heading to the Moon, using their own technology.  

            The moment that occurs, it will also be clear that China can do Mars.  But in the long run we will have to cooperate on this, whether in the course of getting there or after we arrive.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:16:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  But China is testing Moon 'development'... (0+ / 0-)

        in the form of exploratory rovers to test for helium-3 mining.

      •  If JFK had lived.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer

        ... there's a decent chance we would not have gone to the Moon.

        Even before the first landing, it was clear that we, not the Soviets had 'won the space race'.  The Cold War calmed down slightly post Cuba, and it had become clear the missile gap was in our favor, not theirs.   And given that declining foreign policy rationale and increasing cost, support among the public and in Congress was fading quickly.

        It was hard to reverse course on the legacy of an assasinated President.  LBJ was also much more pro-space than JFK was (in large part as a way to funnel federal $$$ to the South).  

        Had JFK lived, he'd have faced a real fight to keep Congress on board, assuming Kennedy himself even wanted to stick with the Moon program in his hypothetical second term.

  •  Mars shmars ... (6+ / 0-)

         This is much more important ☛ Elon Musk takes on carbon

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 08:43:14 AM PDT

  •  Where is everyone else in the Universe? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Stude Dude, NYFM

    According to the principles of evolution, space should be crowded with alien life.  But we don't see or hear them.   Why not?

    •  Interstellar travel is an extraordinarily.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaraujo, kharma

      ....difficult, complex, and resource-intensive thing to achieve, for one.

      Any species who evolves to the point of considering it has to weigh some very large sacrifices. We could presume that other planets with species at our stage of development is also struggling with issues like ours - war and peace, pollution and sustainability, etc. We will probably be struggling with these issues for centuries more, if we are still around.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:04:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The universe is very old (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Termite

        the galaxy, itself, is three times the age of our sun.

        Which means that there has been plenty of time for many alien societies to have emerged and spread out and left something behind.

        If it took a million years, something could have reached us by now.  

        Maybe we have missed the bus by being too late or too early.

        •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aaraujo

          Maybe the ones who've figured it out have criteria for who they will contact. Maybe they're wise enough to know something about us that we haven't figured out yet. Maybe they're waiting for us to evolve beyond the need to defend to the death a stable of imaginary sky lords whose mythologies can't withstand alien contact. Can you blame them?

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

          by The Termite on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:13:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The age of the universe or galaxy is irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aaraujo

          you're by and large only going to find planets of the life bearing type around population 1 stars. (There are some exceptions, as a recent discovery brought home, but this is still going to by and large be true.)

          Unfortunately, this is the age of life forming planets, for our universe. The ancient super-aliens that we so badly want to exist from our popular fiction are in truth so very rare as to, for all intents and purposes that matter to us, probably not exist.

          Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

          by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:29:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  another bus along in about 15 minutes (0+ / 0-)

          be on it

        •  or we underestimate the implications of... (0+ / 0-)

          .... the size of our galaxy.

          Thinking that they should have found us by now, assumes that we're more visible and more important than we actually are.

          That said, a civilization that has solved its sustainability issues and achieved interstellar migration, would also have the resources to send out large numbers of cheap robotic devices to conduct a survey of their region of the galaxy.

          For all we know, one or more objects of that kind could have passed through our solar system, or even Earth's atmosphere, entirely undetected.  

          Or for all we know... "Oh look, a meteor!"

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:38:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  and we'll need to solve them as the price of... (0+ / 0-)

        ... our survival as a species.  

        If we succeed, the path is open to the stars.

        If not, we'll be catalogued as another species that failed the cosmic Darwin test.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:32:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Our system has been quaranteed... (6+ / 0-)

      ...with warning buoys out at the heliopause.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:05:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because After Barely 1 Lifetime They Got Cellphone (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaraujo, kharma

      and internet, and ceased squandering their energy broadcasting I Love Lucyznargg signals out into space.

      The duration of a civilization during which our meager technology can discover them might only be a few generations. If the moment of reaching broadcast technology varies by only 1% of the lifetime of our earth, we should not expect to ever discover an alien civilization by radio, close enough for us to contact.

      Plus there is plenty of evidence of alien beings visiting us, it's just not passed the threshold to be accepted as proof.

      So it's possible we don't even have a problem finding other civilizations.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:05:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it could be that they are all around but we are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Termite

        too primitive to comprehend them.

        Do the ants in your backyard know about you in the house?

        •  or most of them are too primitive (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aaraujo

          I remember reading an argument that, based on the amount of time that alien life (by analogy to Earth life) can be expected to spend as:
            A) single-celled life
            B) complex but non-intelligent life
            C) intelligent but non-technological or just preindustrial
            D) close enough for the two of us to interact as adults
            E) post-Singularity demigods
          means that whatever life is out there is statistically more likely to be either far below or far above us, with there being only a handful of civilizations at or near our level of development.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:38:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It seems entirely possible to me (0+ / 0-)

            that there might be life out there that we don't even recognize as living.

            We only have experience with DNA / water based lifeforms of a certain scale. Anything that differed widely from our expectation might be completely missed.

            No matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.--Lily Tomlin

            by MadScientist on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:53:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand but am skeptical (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MadScientist

              There's an (in my view) sound argument that life takes the path of least resistance, all the way down to basic chemistry, which means that extraterrestrial life is not likely to be arbitrarily exotic.  It's going to preferentially use light, abundant elements that easily form large, complex molecules that are stable over a wide range of temperatures, pressures, and chemical environments.  It's going to preferentially develop with an abundant and easily exploited energy source.  It's going to preferentially develop in a chemically active but otherwise stable and undemanding environment.

              Obviously aliens aren't going to be humans in makeup, but the more strongly you weigh these physically deterministic factors, the more any differences between us and aliens are going to be "skin deep".

              Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

              by Visceral on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:17:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not too sure about that (0+ / 0-)

                We could indeed expect alien "life" to be photosynthetic or thermal vent based... but that's no guarantee that we would find chlorophyll or mitochondria or even their analogues.

                Remember that the spectroscopic signature of each star is quite different. Chlorophyll would be far less useful around a red dwarf, the most abundant type of star there is.

                Even on Earth, different animals use vastly different strategies to accomplish the same thing (humans 20 year child rearing vs. a turtle's 'lay too many eggs to eat' strategy.)

                Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

                by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:35:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  interesting point about chlorophyll. (0+ / 0-)

                  To generalize a bit, it may be that the types of life that arise on various planets vary in accord with the spectra and intensity levels of light from their local stars, and that for each category of star, certain types of life are more likely on its planets.

                  We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                  by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:49:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Life needs mainly an energy source (0+ / 0-)

                and a means to reproduce.  I remember a few years ago when a hurricane came in from the Pacific into Mexico, hit the mountain range in the middle and split into two storms, a tropical storm over the Pacific and a new hurricane in the Bay of Campeche.

                If there was a stable way to reproduce the conditions that caused the split,  and sustain the progeny, one could imagine wind-based lifeforms, with new and more wicked form of storms evolving over time.

                The gas giants have various types of features, like Jupiter's giant spot, that persist for as long as we've been able to observe them.

                Not saying they're alive, just sayin...

                No matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.--Lily Tomlin

                by MadScientist on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 12:05:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  we have found that physics is universal... (0+ / 0-)

              ... and that chemistry is universal, in the sense that atoms and molecules behave the same way throughout our local universe.  Biology on Earth has proven highly diverse, but since biology arises from chemistry, it would be reasonable to assume that we will recognize life when we observe it.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:44:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I can't rec this so I'll write "I rec this." (0+ / 0-)

        Why Kos does this once in a while is beyond me.

        "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

        by Wildthumb on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:26:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually evolution doesn't predict that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrTerwilliker, aaraujo

      evolution only describes what happens after the (likely) rare occurrence of abiogenesis, or at a minimum, panspermia. It stakes no claim to life's widespreadness anywhere else.

      First of all, there's what was necessary to make life viable here - a rotating liquid iron core - a thing we only have because a planet smacked us 4.4 billion years ago. And a relatively stable axis, for similar reasons.

      The former allows us to keep an atmosphere due to the geodynamo, the other, predictable weather.

      We need to be the right distance from our star, and we need to be there for a long time - that's surprisingly hard. Earth with today's atmosphere would have been an iceball until recently, as the sun was cooler than it is now (higher CO2 kept us warmer.)

      Plate tectonics has been sequestering carbon as the sun warmed, and had less need of it.

      We need a gas giant in the right spot to keep objects that might strike us from hitting too often - Jupiter.

      For intelligent life - we needed a well timed meteorite hit to knock off one clade (except for birds), and promote another (mammals.) Understand that intelligent life is not a "direction" for evolution - it is one of many potential fitness advantages competing for attention in the organism.

      Until 30,000 years ago,  most of our lifetime as a species - chimps were a more successful species than we were. (Chimps count as intelligent life, and even have some advantages over us in the mental dept., but have only a limited communication ability, so aliens wouldn't see or hear from them.)

      So life that could be observed from a great distance might be somewhat rare. Atmospheric signatures - a nitrogen/oxygen mix like ours - would tell us something, but we're only on the edge of being able to do that.

      Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

      by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:13:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given the age and size of the universe (0+ / 0-)

        how many times have these conditions been met?  Maybe millions?  And there might even been better conditions to life out there.

        •  Millions? Perhaps (0+ / 0-)

          But those millions will, unless they've all mysteriously aggregated nearby, be in distant galaxies where the only spectroscopic information of any utility we're getting is the Hubble red shift of the entire galaxy.

          They're out of reach to us, in other words.

          Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

          by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:24:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Intelligent life is a pretty recent experiment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bobs Telecaster

        not clear how well its going to work out.  If we manage to kill ourselves off, I'm sure the prokaryotes won't miss us that much.

        No matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.--Lily Tomlin

        by MadScientist on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:56:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're describing all the conditions necessary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aaraujo

        to make another Earth, not the conditions necessary to make a life-sustainable planet.  If you assume that the only way life can exist is if it starts on a planet very, very similar to ours, (the only successful test case example we know of), then, yeah, that's much rarer, but that doesn't seem a logical way to assess things.  It helps establish a lower boundary for the probability, but not a higher boundary.

        Personally, I think the conditions on a sattelite like Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, might be a more hospitable example breeding ground than planets like earth.  Europe has a deep deep ocean of ice, liquid water existing at great depths, heated not just by pressure but by the tidal pull of Jupiter, causing deep seismic activity.  Being covered by miles of ice should provide more protection than the ozone layer.  

        We suspect from our own planet's history that anaerobic life may have similarly evolved around volcanic vents in the sea floor.  If that is the case, everything since then that you describe as a requirement was really just a challenge that life adapted to, making it look easy.

        •  I submit that it is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo, aaraujo

          Earth is the only planet that we know of that has life. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that Earthlike conditions are an appropriate close to requisite precursor to life, certainly life of an intelligent and technological nature.

          Now - there are planets in our own solar system that we suspect life may have a foothold in, but only because we know those rare organisms that are extremophiles might be able to survive in some of these worlds' more benign locations (such as Enceladus' oceans or Mars' interior.)

          But no one should conflate the possible existence of extremophiles on Mars, Enceladus, and Europa with civilization somehow springing up in more locations than we imagined.

          Our world is a high energy biosphere powered by enormous, enormous numbers of chloroplast powered biomass. Nothing like that will be found on an Enceladus type world, whose biosphere at a maximum runs on a few smokers at the bottom of its oceans.

          No, I think it is right to conclude based on the available evidence - and frankly by SETI's failure to find anything at all - that life of the kind we know it is extremely rare. Extremely rare indeed.

          For all the worlds the Kepler mission found, only a handful are in the habitable zone, and only one offers any possibility of being truly Earthlike (and at a 130 day orbit, the odds that it is tidally locked and not at all Earthlike are actually very high.)

          Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

          by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 06:05:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Because its really BIG. Thats the short answer n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JR
    •  Because (0+ / 0-)

      Most civilizations don't make it. They blow themselves up with nuclear weapons, succumb to an AIDS-like disease, or get smashed flat by an asteroid. You have to be a very, very smart species to make it.

      It doesn't bode well for us.

      But, more seriously, we can only get signals in any reasonable time from a very limited amount of space. The closest star (really a multi-star system) is about 4 light-years from here. It would take four years for a radio signal to get here from there.

      If you have a civilization that's near a star a 1,000 LY from here, any signal would have been traveling for a thousand years. It's not certain that if we answered they would be around (in another thousand years) to get our reply. So, to have a civilization we could communicate with, we need one that's in a sphere maybe a few hundred light-years in radius.

      Obviously, we are looking for signals from a wider radius than that. But the strength of the signal also falls off with the square of the distance. If you start squaring thousands of light-years, the signal is likely very weak here.

      The number of stars that could likely have planets supporting a civilization with the technology to put out radio waves and for us to be receiving them now isn't that great.

      So,  "crowded"? What's crowded? Space is mostly just space. And, in that sparse dusting of matter, intelligent life is even sparser.

    •  because we're listening for them on radio... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nattiq

      .. while they're using lasers between their worlds.  Or for all we know, the ansible.

      (Fringe-science speculation warning)  The key to the ansible will turn out to be massively parallel transmission and linked error correction.  The necessary bandwidth will be something like 95x the bandwidth of the human brain.  That does not mean the system will have the processing power of a human brain or better, only 95x the bandwidth.  The intelligible output of that system will be a bitstream that reduces to approximately T1 bandwidth, or 1.5 MB/sec., a tiny fraction of the transmission bandwidth.  In its fully realized form, the critical components will turn out to require about 3 KW of electricity to power them at each end.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:24:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope he can find funding (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, rduran

    from someone. Unfortunately, NASA is a mess of jurisdictional squabbling between the White House, Congress, and aerospace lobbyists who used to make the space shuttle and are now trying to nab Orion work.

    He'll need to get that funding from somewhere else.

    Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

    by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:02:24 AM PDT

  •  All in favor of going to Mars. Love anything and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM

    mean anything to do with space.  But, we can spend the money on getting things right here before we move into other neighborhoods.  We could delay all space exploration which I don't think we should do, for 1000 years and in the big picture it wouldn't make a difference.  I suspect though that well before that we'll figure out how to travel the galaxy better than we can now.  Which is we can't.  

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubt." Bertrand Russell I'm very certain that is true. 10−122

    by thestructureguy on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:02:41 AM PDT

  •  perhaps Elon Musk will meet Aeon Flux /nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, rja, 714day

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:06:58 AM PDT

  •  The world would be a better place... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jen Hayden, The Termite, billmosby, Dumbo

    With more people like Elon Musk

    The most un-convincable man is the one whose paycheck depends on remaining unconvinced. -- H. L. Mencken

    by kharma on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:13:09 AM PDT

  •  If gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, or some (0+ / 0-)

    other currently valuable resource was proven to be plentiful on Mars, or the Moon for that matter, there'd be a mad rush to get there. Since there's no direct evidence of that, exploration is going to be a slow and frustrating thing to get off the ground.

    While the sailors and navigators of the 15th and 16th century were certainly possessed by the basic human drive to explore, the money for those expeditions was provided by people who were hoping for financial windfalls to result.

  •  While Im all for big lofty goals, I dont think so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    imsodizzy

    Id be very surprised (if I were around) if there were a manned Mars mission anytime in the 1st half of the century by anyone.
    Not even the 'suicide squad' that wants to arrange a 1 way trip..

  •  And we will likely have the first corpses on Mars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, imsodizzy

    in 10-12 years and a week.

    "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    by pierre9045 on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:58:41 AM PDT

  •  Looks like we have a real D. D. Harriman... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shadowmage36

    AKA "The Man Who Sold The Moon"....

    Hopefully Musk is a nicer guy....

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 10:09:30 AM PDT

  •  Man on Mars, why? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran

    There is nothing of value there.  Going to Mars is a complete waste of money.

    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

    by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:19:47 AM PDT

  •  Solid Infrastructure B4 "Suicide Colonists"... (0+ / 0-)

    but could we just hear from these guys once:

    Something like:

    in 10-12 years, we will place a survivable base camp in a secure and interesting location on Mars, so that it can safely host an initial colony of 5 to 7 colonists.

    I don't want to hear about permanent. That is not going to be politically sustainable. No one these days would want to bandy about the term "suicide colonists"...

    Just saying...

    Ugh. --UB.

    The Republican Party is run by the KOCH BROTHERS.

    by unclebucky on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 11:47:24 AM PDT

    •  I'd volunteer to be a suicide colonist. (0+ / 0-)

      There would be no shortage of people of all stripes of life ready and eager to take huge risks to go to Mars.  A chance of success would be good enough just to be part of the spreading of the species.  It's part of the success plan of many species, that some crazy assholes will leave the hive and start a colony in some new place.

      •  You won't last as long as you think... n/t (0+ / 0-)

        The Republican Party is run by the KOCH BROTHERS.

        by unclebucky on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:24:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Your comparison is the same planet where... (0+ / 0-)

        there's air, water, carbs, protein, and minerals just floating around for you to take in.

        I mentioned air, since that is important for everything else.

        Ugh. --UB.

        The Republican Party is run by the KOCH BROTHERS.

        by unclebucky on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:26:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read the book (0+ / 0-)

          The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin.

          All those problems are solvable for a small independent colony.  A colony of this type would by its nature have to be able to survive independently because of the length of time it takes for resupply.  But there is an atmosphere, albeit a very light one.  The problems of pressurization of habitats and suits compared to the Moon or outer space are significantly reduced by this.  Oxygen can be created by the same processes that create food.

          Heh.  I was looking for information about high tech oxygen scrubbers when I came across this.  A low-tech home oxygen scrubber.  It's actually a pretty good model for what you would want to do on Mars, although you would want to scale up.

          Simple Algae Home CO2 Scrubber.

          •  Zubrin (0+ / 0-)

            Zubrin is the kind of guy who, in the 1950s, would have been writing books about how within 25 years we'd all have our own simple, cheap, safe nuclear reactor in our house and energy would be free for everyone.

            He's got some innovative ideas, and the world needs people like him to give hidebound bureaucracies a kick in the pants.  But there's a long way and a whole lot of details, complexity, risk, and cost between his sketches and a self-sustaining Mars habitat that won't simply be full of dead people and dust in short order.

  •  I wonder if SpaceX will actually build (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    its own interplanetary spacecraft, or will they partner with other Newspace ventures for those components?

  •  Elon Musk should be president of the world. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran

    Fuck Ayn Rand and all her Atlas Shrugged virtue-of-selfishness millionaire heroes who threaten to take their toys and run away because they aren't appreciated enough.  This is a guy who is improving humanity in big ways, and his money is the means, not the end.

    He's right.  We need colonies off the planet.  We're destroying it so fast.  We need to "diversify" to use fund-management language, and not keep our eggs all in one earthly basket.  Stephen Hawking has said the same thing -- that we basically better prepare for this.

  •  Women on Mars: Never. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, Liberal Thinking

    Of course, that's snark.

    But I remember a story told by a woman who, as a young girl, listened to a male NASA (scientist? engineer?) who was asked whether women would be sent into space on longer voyages.

    "Of course," he said.

    This woman recounted her joy at hearing this -- of course half of humanity would not be excluded from space travel on account of their gender.  Of course women had the guts, brains, and strength to be astronauts.  Of course.

    Until he finished his sentence.

    "Men have needs."

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:05:37 PM PDT

    •  P.S. -- I also found that super creepy when I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard

      thought about it further -- assuming women were sent into sex to provide for men's sexual "needs", would they just hire prostitutes to go?  

      Wouldn't any woman who they hired with this understanding be accepting a position as a prostitute?

      Prostitute or not, could she say no?  Legally?  Practically?  How long until the first rape in space?

      Times may be more enlightened now, but part of me thinks they should just send women to Mars.

      (If this sounds unfair to you, consider that only men got sent to the Moon.  That was unfair too.)

      © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:13:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Couples (0+ / 0-)

        A few proposals I've looked at involved married people. Depending on how you and your significant other fare in close quarters it would either be a dream or a nightmare.

        •  How would they arrange it so that both (0+ / 0-)

          members of a couple had the necessary background and skills?  Would they give preference to married couples in the astronaut selection process?

          I appreciate the idea, but the idea of including women on interplanetary journeys because men "need" sex is still deeply creepy to me.

          © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

          by cai on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:30:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for bringing up this subject (0+ / 0-)

        While we're on it, it bothers me that after all these years--the Second Wave of Feminism bla bla bla--people like Elon Musk are still saying "mankind" instead of "humankind" and "man" instead of "humanity" or "humans."

        Women are half the human race--more than half, or so they say. Why are we continually ignored as if we don't exist?

        "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

        by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 03:54:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Teh Wimmenz, can't live with them... (0+ / 0-)

      can't escape to an inhospitable planet.

      It sucks to be a man. Except for being overrepresented and overcompensated and getting away with all kinds of often evil shit against women. Sigh.

      I ride the wild horse .

      by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:04:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The line is from a Jerry Lewis movie (0+ / 0-)

      The comment you refer to is from the movie "Way, Way Out", starring Jerry Lewis and Connie Stevens. It doesn't make the comment any less objectionable, obviously. (Ha ha. Send a pretty girl up with the astronaut because men have needs.) It's a telling example of the mid 60s Hollywood version of what they labeled "women's lib".

      Connie Stevens is set up with the astronaut to be married so he will have his needs met on the long flight.

      Wiki for the movie, Way, Way Out.

  •  I heard him on climate change-he's nervous (4+ / 0-)

    its almost as if he see us in a race against the ruination of our planet and wants to get us to Mars before it happens!

    I bet he read all the Heinlein books.. including the short story, "The man who sold the moon"...

    •  Noble & foolish. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnotherAmericanLie

      Timeframe chances of reaching Mars (with any meaningful outcome thereafter) vs. global warming fucking our societal systems to the point of our continued existence (to the point of further space travel, anyway): Zero (at least asymptotically).

    •  We are in a race against time... (0+ / 0-)

      The next hundred years are the most crucial in the history of our species since we were down to a few thousand individuals and almost went extinct about a hundred thousand years ago. We won't go extinct now, but our technological society in it's current form is in serious danger of collapse. A mass extinction event is already baked in. Marine biologists think that the ocean ecosystems might very well collapse. When rains fail, crops fail, terrestrial ecosystems implode and hundreds of millions of us start to starve, things will get very, very ugly. I'm not saying this is inevitable, but we are getting closer to that point every day. It seems to be the most likely outcome, unfortunately.

      PS I hope I'm wrong.

      I ride the wild horse .

      by BelgianBastard on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:16:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I nominate Dick Cheney. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking

    He's never going to die and he's probably from there anyway.

    Free Will is the only moral law.

    by franklyn on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:18:40 PM PDT

  •  This is easy to fund as well... (0+ / 0-)

    Just spin off a new company, Space X Mars Ventures and have it do either a giant 1) kickstarter or 2) an IPO where everyone assumes a loss. Would rake in the billions required to fund the mission(s) and leave Space X separate.

  •  This guy's a welcome visionary. There aren't many (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, Liberal Thinking

    like him. My niece's husband just got his foot in the door at SpaceX. He couldn't have hitched his wagon to a brighter star.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:32:29 PM PDT

  •  It's exciting to have real dreamers and thinkers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover

    amongst us pushing the envelope!

  •  So why would I want to live there? (6+ / 0-)

    So I can live in a metal box and breath canned air and drink my own recycled piss for the rest of my life? Until the cosmic radiation killed me that is.

    Mars is not very hospitable to human life. Thin atmosphere, extreme temperatures, very little liquid water.

    And before you say "But! But! Columbus!", people like Columbus came here because it offered something better than where they were.

    There's a reason we settled Europe and North America and not the Sahara Desert and the polar ice caps, both of which look positively inviting compared to Mars.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:51:39 PM PDT

  •  Musk's heart may be in the right place, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ... I think that we can learn far more about Mars by sending unmanned probes, at a fraction of the cost. He can use the money saved to fund inter-stellar probes instead.
    The way I envision this is, send up an inter-stellar probe every five years or so. That means that over a 200-year period, 40 of these things would be launched, and at least one of them would send back some extremely valuable data.
    And, yes, I'm willing to contribute to crowdfunding for this.

  •  Remembering Gerry Goffin (0+ / 0-)

    You've got to be a certain age (or maybe not) to remember, but we can all appreciate:


    THANK YOU

    Photobucket

    And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

    by noweasels on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:32:51 PM PDT

  •  Uplift (0+ / 0-)

    This brings to mind one of my favorite songs, Andrew Eigel's "Uplift", performed here by two of my favorite people, Vixy and Tony:

    I hope you can make out the words, because they really are wonderful. You might also try this version by Glen Raphael.

    Help the long-term unemployed. Call Congress and urge the House to pass HR 3979. Follow @PhonePAC_RenewU on Twitter

    by Omir the Storyteller on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 09:33:43 PM PDT

  •  Let Me Put in a Plug for Phobos and Deimos (0+ / 0-)

    Personally, I think our near-term target should be one of the moons. If we want to have a "Mars base", I think we should start with one of the moons.

    There are a couple big reasons for this.

    Reason one is the gravity well. Mars is about 1/3 the size of earth, so the gravity well isn't as deep. But in order to supply someone on the surface you still have to get supplies down to that surface. If you don't have to do that you save a lot of energy. And that's the energy you had to ship all the way to Mars in the first place.

    Second, the atmosphere of Mars is very thin. It's not much protection. Nor is there a magnetic field. However, if you drilled into one of the moons you could get protection fairly quickly. (Depending on the actual material and our ability to develop techniques for drilling into asteroids, which is essentially what these moons are.)

    Once you established a base, you could use that base to manage operations on the surface and pre-build a base for humans. Managing construction from that close to Mars is vastly easier than managing it from Earth because radio signals from the surface would not have much time delay.

    So, my question for you is this, which moon?

    (1) Phobos
    (2) Deimos

    There's one huge difference between these moons. One is very close to the surface and orbits quite fast. Phobos takes only a little more than 7 hours to go round. This means that it whips around the planet a couple times a day.

    On the other hand, Deimos takes about 30 hours, so a bit longer than a Martian day.

    This means that the trade off for maintaining signal with a base on the surface is that Phobos would have contact for a few hours at a time, a couple times a day, and Deimos would give you access for an extended period of time, but then take you out of radio contact for an extended period, too.

    Which is better?

    •  You can aero-brake off Mars. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      And save a lot of deltaV.
      It would be a bit more expensive, fuel wise, to aero-brake off Mars and try to rendezvous with the moons.

      Mars also has an atmosphere that can mitigate solar particle radiation somewhat (not completely, on account of thin atmosphere and no magnetic field).

      Of course, if you're also trying to return stuff from the base, then Phobos/Deimos would work better.

  •  and all this time I thought he was a/cologne.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 11:34:04 PM PDT

  •  Whether SpaceX or NASA designs/builds the ships... (0+ / 0-)

    ... it will still cost hundreds of billions -- or trillions -- of dollars of tax money to make the trip.

    And as long as the "I don't wanna pay no goddamn taxes for nuthin' " anti-science fucking teabagger idiots are in control, it ain't happening.

    THERE IS NO FINANCIAL COMMERCIAL PAYBACK FOR A TRIP TO MARS. PRIVATE ENTERPRISE WILL NEVER DO IT.

    Plus the technical and operational hurdles involved in making the trip are far beyond what almost anybody has imagined.

    IF water in ice form is found and can be extracted on the surface of Mars, a manned trip becomes much more possible. Surface water could be used for life-support purposes and for return-voyage fuel.

    It certainly IS crucial that the US continue to develop and expand its mannned spaceflight capabilities, so the ISS should be supported for many more years (refurbished and repaired into the 2030s and beyond) and an operational presence on the moon reestablished by the early 2020s.

  •  I forget.... (0+ / 0-)

    what's so great about the human race that we should impose it on the rest of the universe?

    No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

    by DocDawg on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 05:49:40 AM PDT

  •  Just Watch Out for the Cat-Men (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 06:20:26 AM PDT

  •  I know an astronaut and I trust his view. (0+ / 0-)

    We're so not going to Mars.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 08:00:24 AM PDT

  •  Space for the Rich (0+ / 0-)

    Watch Elysium and you will see why the corporations and the rich are so interested in space travel, interplanetary travel, and all things above ground.  For Richard Branson, its about making more money, for Musk- the same.  Space travel will never improve life for the 99%.

    Boycott WalMart; Boycott Papa Johns; and Boycott BP

    by truthronin on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 09:41:47 AM PDT

  •  I nominate Cheney to be first to go to Mars with a (0+ / 0-)

    One Way ticker.

    "to the moon!, Alice!"

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